With a career that has lasted nearly twenty years, you would expect an artist like Sufjan Stevens to have a Prince-sized vault of unreleased material to back up his exceptional catalogue of work to date. But as it turns out, he hasn't used this opportunity to share much of his own original material as you would expect. His new mixtape 'The Greatest Gift' is mainly made up of remixes and reworks of his previous full-length 'Carrie & Lowell', but still manages to hold some of his signature magic.
'The Greatest Gift' seems to be broken up into several parts of where the music has originated from. The tracks are one of three things; unreleased originals, remixed works or "iPhone Demos", with the last obviously speaking for itself. The result therefore is this really mismatched collection of tracks that don't seem to work well together. We can give him the benefit of the doubt by saying that these are a collection of b-sides, but to throw unpolished demos in amongst super-glossy productions just seems too jarring to enjoy properly.
It seems clear that Stevens was simply looking to give his fans something special before Christmas, which really should have been an EP of the finished, unaired singles that are scattered throughout the release. 'The Greatest Gift' is simply an unloading of his hard drive and one that only super keen fans would enjoy.